STK - Wooden bowl of blueberries

If you could enjoy better health by changing one thing about yourself, would you do it? Of course, you would. And for millions of Americans, an improved quality of life was found by simply changing their diet. There is a lot of power in nutrition, and as the field of functional medicine gains in popularity as a method for treating chronic and degenerative illnesses, people are discovering that good health is one meal away.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that one in three Americans have pre-diabetes, meaning their blood sugar levels are “higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as Type 2 diabetes.” That means 86 million of us are sitting on a threshold. And without making changes in our lifestyle, the CDC says up to 30 percent of those with pre-diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within five years.

“Doctors are now discovering that Type 2 diabetes isn’t a condition that requires more medication. Instead, it needs a change in nutrition,” said Dr. Candice Hall, D.C., at Next Advanced Medicine.

So what can we put on our plate to help prevent the onset of diabetes?

1. Eat greens

Eating greens nearly every day may be one of the most powerful steps you can take to prolong your life,” said Michael Greger, M.D., author of How Not to Die. “Of all the food groups analyzed by a team of Harvard University researchers, greens turned out to be associated with the strongest protection against major chronic diseases.”

Foods like kale, spinach, and broccoli are versatile, easy to prepare, and delicious.

2. Load up on berries

Used as the base for a delicious smoothie or just eaten by the handful, berries are high in fiber, low in carbohydrates, and they have a low glycemic index, which keeps your blood sugar steady. Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries — are all great sources, but blueberries are the star of the show. A report posted on DiabetesHealth.com says that research reveals blueberries have properties that help to improve factors related to pre-diabetes and decrease inflammation in obese men and women.

3. Drink water

If you have pre-diabetes, water is a healthier alternative than sugary sodas, juices and energy drinks.

“The amount of water you should drink every day depends on your body size, activity level, and the climate you live in,” said Kristeen Cherney and Rachel Nall. “You can determine if you’re drinking enough water by monitoring the volume of urine when you go.” Also make a note of the color. Your urine should be pale yellow.

4. Enjoy fiber-rich foods

Foods like whole-grain bread, steel-cut oats, beans, legumes, artichokes, avocados, popcorn, and whole-wheat pasta are all great sources of fiber.

Found in plant-based foods, fiber is a carbohydrate that the body can’t digest, which helps slow the rise in blood sugar following a meal,” says Diana Rodriguez. “There are two types of fiber — soluble and insoluble, and they both offer big benefits.”

Fiber is also found in foods like peas, broccoli, berries, and pears.

Who knew good health could be so delicious? By enjoying a plant-based diet with berries, fiber-rich foods, and plenty of water, we can reduce the onset of diabetes, one bite at a time.

Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Association of Skilled Nursing Providers, Publisher of 39forlife.com, and CEO of Osmond Marketing. Follow her at @doctorosmond.

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